Monday, March 09, 2009

Take the Outlier Challenge

This week from the Institute for the Future and the Signtific Lab: it's the third and final trial in our Free Space trilogy!

The experiment (PLAY NOW!)starts at 7 PM Pacific Time Monday March 9, and ends 2 PM Pacific Time Thursday March 11.

Join the lab or log in now!

The experiment is headquartered at Etech 09 -- but you're welcome to play with us at Etech from wherever in the world you happen to be!

For this final trial, we're issuing the Outlier Challenge. Here are the guidelines! (originally published on the Signtific Lab blog.)


Here at the Signtific Lab, we love outliers. That's why we want you to take the Outlier Challenge.

In future forecasting terms, outliers are the most surprising ideas. They are what scientists call "non-obvious", and they're the opposite of "wisdom of the crowds" consensus. They take the crowd by surprise. Outliers might not be the most likely ideas, but they would have a huge impact if they actually occurred. They're especially hard to see coming, but when they do come, they disrupt everything -- precisely because so few people anticipated them.

The main benefit of a platform like the Signtific Lab is that we can expose each other to many more outliers -- and avoid getting blindsided by the future.

To help you uncover new outliers, we've created the Outlier Challenge. Your mission: Avoid "Outlier Fail" and steer towards "Outlier Win."


This is a list of apparently obvious ideas about the future of free space. We call them "outlier fail", because they have shown up literally 100 times or more in our forecast feed. You can feel free to create new micro-forecasts about these ideas, but you'd better say something extremely surprising if you want to avoid the outlier fail! Don't just tell us this stuff will happen. We've got that already. Can you say anything surprising or non-obvious about these topics? If not, AVOID! AVOID! AVOID!

• Junk in space
• Falling junk from space
• Porn in space
• Terrorists in space
• Stalking from space
• Reality TV from space
This is a list of the topic we think have the most potential for non-obvious ideas about the future of free space. So use these as springboards to surprise yourself and the other Lab members. The more you explore any of these topics, and the deeper you get down the chain of forecasts, the more potentially outlier you'll get! WANT! WANT! WANT!
* DIY space research
* Crowdsourced eco-monitoring
* Disaster spotting & response
* Hacking democracy
* Cubesat entrepreneurs
* Social capital in space
* News from space
* Serious games in space
* Climate change applications
* Food/agriculture innovation
* Chemical/materials research
* Bio/life sciences research
* Oceanographic research
* Tracking and protecting all living things (migration patterns, etc)


Anonymous said...

its really sad that the real time card feed is not under a creative commons license. it just screems to be made into something beautiful other then text on a website.

Nina Simon said...

I'm realizing that the most interesting stuff potentially comes deep into card threads. For that reason, I'm trying to focus now on responding to other ideas and taking them in farther strange directions.

But this makes me realize that from a design perspective, the prioritization of the "top level" cards is problematic - it gives inappropriate weight to the starter ideas over the deeper, weirder tails.

Chris Havranek said...

Even though I haven't been able to participate as much as I'd like, the times I have felt very rewarding. Getting the creative mind to start up and shutting down the critical mind is all about what I'm trying to do.

Like Nina, I found it much more interesting to look at already existing cards and building on to them. Trying to come up with something completely new and unique is fun, but when you have to come up with something new based on something already in existence it provides another level of challenge.